Some iconographers believe that there are no technical struggles in iconography, only spirtual ones.  I seem to be having a whopper.

I am working on an icon of a Guardian Angel, experimenting with acrylic paints, which I haven’t used much before.  Nothing is coming out right. No harmony, no beauty, no unity.  I remove and repaint, cover one layer with another, getting the same results, seemingly doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again, day after day.  It is very frustrating.  I wanted so much for this icon to be beautiful, to express my love for my Lord.  It was not happening.

I had to stop and take time to sit in silence and figure out what was going wrong.  It didn’t take long for the answer to come:  I had been squeezing in the painting between shifts at work, between chores and errands, painting almost on the run–overwhelmed with busyness, I was not taking time for prayer.  How could I over look that?  I temporarily stopped the physical work on the icon, and over the past week said the Rosary nightly instead.  I did some spiritual reading, reconnected myself with the Jesus Prayer, spent time in silence and restorative prayer.  Then, I began to paint again.   With prayer, with silence, with mindfulness and calm.  It has made a world of difference. 

I am reminded that none of this work is of my own doing.  I allow the Spirit to lead, and let go of my own need to control.  I pray, the paint flows, and slowly the icon is coming around.  There  is still a long way to go, so much to repair and redo. An interesting thing is that this icon seems to be developing itself in some ways.  I had envisioned a warm, glowing, golden angel, and the angel that seems to be emerging in this image is pastel-colored and much different from my other work.  I don’t know how it will end up, but will continue to pray for harmony and unity within the icon and within my own heart.


About reinkat

I am an iconographer, and have been studying Russian/Greek icons since 1995. I'm married with 3 children. I love hiking, camping, animals, my family and church--and icons.
This entry was posted in Catholic icons, Christian Prayer, Icon, Iconography, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Struggles

  1. SR says:

    Hey Girl,

    Cannot we get ourselves in a tailspin sometimes? Have you ever noticed when we do, as we look back the first thing we let go of was our prayers, reading Scriptures etc… I wonder why we do that?? That is why I try my best to get up early and have that Holy Hour. If I do not then I will not do it! I am praying as well with and for you that this turns out. It will Reinkat, God has not given to you this great talent for failure, as long as you put Him before the talent. I fail at putting Him before a lot of things in my life. The wonderful thing is, He is always ready to help us begin again. God Bless, SR

  2. Biltrix says:

    Two things that come to mind reading your post. My ideas always come in twos.

    First, my primary non-reflective thought: I Love Angels! Especially guardian angels. So I am really looking forward to your completed work, and I am sure I am going to love it.

    Second, you really are an artist, and here is why I mean that. Your insights into real conflicts and struggles through your lived experience of doing art are genuine insights that resonate deeply with any person who has real life struggles. And who doesn’t have them?

    Anyone who is in touch with his or her humanity can relate to what you’ve posted here. I’m relating right now (and there is only so much I can share) because I’ve got real issues (albeit, small ones in the grand scheme of things) in my present life, which I can’t quite see my way through right now. I read what you are saying here and I am struck, rather than just feeling stuck, by an insight that sheds light on my own present circumstances. Maybe it’s my guardian angel.

    Sorry, if all that was too personal. I normally don’t do that. But I had to share, and I need to add, of all the blogs I follow, yours is my favorite and your work means a lot to me. Thank you!

    • reinkat says:

      thank you so much for sharing this. I had worried when posting this particular one that I was being too personal. I think we all benefit from it, though, when we get out of our head, into our heart, and share.
      I really appreciate your encouragement and kind words. It keeps me going. Thank you.

      • SR says:

        I agree with everything Biltrix said about you. I keep telling you over and over what a beautiful and sweet soul you have. I always await your post and your wonderful icons. How many times I have come back and forth to them, just to find peace in my soul. I truly do not think in your humility you realize how many people you bless. Look at how you have helped me in my trials especially the past few months. I could not wait until I had time to email you, and get you to help me get it all back in order again. I could not have made it without your heart and your prayers. SO QUIT ALWAYS SELLING YOURSELF SO SHORT GIRLFRIEND, BECAUSE WE ALL LOVE YA! GOD BLESS, SR

      • reinkat says:

        Thank you, dear friend. You have blessed me and my life more than you know.
        The comments you and Biltrix have made today have lifted my spirits so much. I told my husband that I had been given an “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment.

  3. Do you use egg tempera when you don’t use acrylic?

    • reinkat says:

      Hi, Cornel, yes I do use egg tempera most of the time. I make a wood icon board with homemade gesso (rabbit skin glue). This is one of the very rare times I am using acrylics, thinking somehow that it would be quicker and easier. I was very wrong! Do you use acrylics or egg for your work? (your work is beautiful).

      • I use egg tempera mostly, but not only. For frame I use acrylic Red Ochre but for clothes and faces, hands I use egg tempera only.
        I also tried aclylic a bit just for some paintings and it’s an interesting medium, but you need to practise, practise and practise.
        Perhaps we can exchange some information about iconography using our e-mails. I have some documents in English .

  4. reinkat says:

    Yes, I would love to talk about iconography with you. Feel free to contact me via email for this. I have always used burnt sienna acrylic “straight out of the tube” for the outside edges of the panel, and the most outside border around the edges, even for an egg tempera icon. The reason is because these areas get damage and nicks very easily. It is easy to fix them with the color already mixed and standard inside the tube. You cannot see the repair.

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